Monday, December 12, 2005

Going Dutch

Hi folks! I'm checking in with you tonight from the lovely city of

Amsterdam. Well, maybe 'lovely' is a debatable description for Amsterdam -- there's lots of lovely here, lots of charm, lots of the absurd here though! I'm in Europe for 10 days ... mostly business, but of course with a little sightseeing thrown in.

Where do I start? Oh, without a doubt ... I know exactly where to start: Bicycles, bicycles, bicycles! As you can imagine, I fell in love with this city five minutes after sitting down for an espresso at a cafe on a cold Sunday morning and watching dozens and dozens of cyclists ride by. Old style bikes, no gears, no high tech clothes, no helmets, just an entire culture going about their daily lives via the art of pedaling. Biking to work. Biking to the store. Bike baskets full of bread, of flowers, of gifts. Couples biking side by side. Young kids on bikes -- people in their 70s on bikes. People in suits on bikes -- in dresses -- in uniforms. Bike racks everywhere. Bikes as far as the eye can see -- against buildings, against benches, all along the canals (which are everywhere in Amsterdam). Wonderful bike lanes have overtaken the city. It's so easy to fall victim to the intoxicating charm of an old European city -- throw in the fact that Amsterdam is THE city of bikes -- and well, you can see why the temptation to hop on a bike and pedal along endless canals for days on end is almost more than I can resist.

I spent the weekend roaming the city ... I took it all in: the quaint and the chaotic; the conservative residential areas and the liberal -- well, liberal everything!; high tech and centuries old; up-scale and "wouldn't step foot in after dark!" Off to a great start in the Netherlands ... but, back to work now! I'll check in later once I've explored the city more. Ciao for now!


Thursday, December 8, 2005

Alas, the mega, year-end, getting caught up with you blog!

In the past 10 months, I've had the fortune of being immersed in a great job - which has been outstanding for new multinational friendships, an intense intellectual challenge, and some great perks (such as international travel), but so time-consuming that my blog has fallen by the wayside. A boon to adventures and blog fodder, but a bust to my after-hours "typing at a computer" motivation, I've been on the road (and in the sky) more than I've been at my home in Atlanta this year!

Here's a quick attempt at catching up:

This year, I've spent a total of five weeks in the wonderful country of Chile (over four visits and a mix of work and play), celebrated a friend's 70th birthday near the Mojave Desert, learned about world class tequila while working and 'bonding' in Mexico, went SCUBA diving with a long, long-time friend in the unbelievably clear springs in northern Florida, sailed by Bill Gates' house on Lake Washington in Seattle, built a website for a middle school math tutoring program, cycled with Becky through the coast range and Sierras in California, stood inches from Lance Armstrong in one of his final races in a Tour de France-like sea of cycling fans on the steeps of Brasstown Bald in the Tour de Georgia, drove an exotic sports car with another great friend through the mountains in up-state New York while making a mini-documentary, visited with close, old friends and our godchildren in Hartford, watched the sun rise over the St. Lawrence on an early morning run in Montreal, saw hurricane damage firsthand in southern Florida while catching up with an old friend a day after Katrina hit land for the first time, helped motivate a college friend to finish her first Ironman, snuck in a day of southern hemisphere spring snowboarding at Valle Nevado (Chile), saw U2 live and at times 5 feet from Bono, gushed with pride after seeing my sister return to college and instantly improve her career with a new job, enjoyed a top-notch Italian meal at a sidewalk cafe in Little Italy with a climbing partner from my 2001 expedition to Aconcagua, visited Ireland in my mind as I enjoyed Scotch and camaraderie with old and new friends at the best Irish pub I've been to ... in of all places, Seattle, experienced mind-numbing sensory overload while backpacking in Patagonia, cheered Becky on to her first Half Ironman finish, and danced until 2am after finishing the New York Marathon. Throw in some outstanding weekend excursions, typically cycling themed, helping my parents select road bikes, seeing live shows from Green Day, U2, Ozomatli, and others, and visits with our families, and it has been quite the year! A final work trip to Europe and Christmas back home should bring quite a year to a close.

At the end of 2004, I declared it a year of friendship - of making many, many new friends and of rekindling old friendships.

Nearing the end of 2005, I think that I'll extend the title to this year as well. Traveling the world, experiencing the people, cultures, and landscape is a strong passion of mine; however, it always comes back to the people you are with -- the people you meet and the people with whom you share adventures, from exotic travel to the everyday adventure of life. Last year's new friendships have turned into old friendships and I now greet many of these friends as if we've known each other for a decade. In addition, this year I've made some many great friends outside of the US, drawing me ever further away from nationalism, to that of being a citizen of the world. To that end, I really feel a strong connection to my new friends in Chile, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Canada, and the Netherlands and I'm happy to see that the world is flattening a bit to make global friendships as easy to foster as those next door.

In closing, and transitioning away from this year-end reflection oriented posting, I'll offer that I documented our recent Patagonia backpacking adventure with some interesting daily podcasts, which I'll be uploading very soon (along with some amazing photos from Patagonia!). Before the year ends, I'll also plan to blog from Amsterdam and perhaps throw in a cooking update.

Anyway, thanks much for reading. Moving into next year, I'll try to post my short write-ups from my travels, as I anticipate another year of work trips to various international locales and hopefully some fun personal travel as well.

As always, thanks for stopping by!